Classical vs Human Relations Approaches to Management

1818 words 8 pages

This essay compares and contrasts the “Classical” and “Human Relations” approaches to management. It focuses on how these approaches are similar and compatible and looks at their differences and incompatibilities. It then explores how systems theory and contingency theory can reconcile the incompatibilities between the approaches.

The essay is structured as follows. First, the essay shall explain the nature of the “Classical” and “Human Relations” approaches to management. Then, it will explore their similarities and dissimilarities. This section will be followed with an introduction to systems theory and contingency theory and how they can reconcile the dissimilarities and incompatibilities between
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The studies tested the effect different factors such as lighting on workers had on efficiency. The results of the studies were not as expected and researchers discovered the Hawthorne Effect. Heery and Noon (2001, p151) describe the Hawthorne effect as the concept that subjects of experiments respond positively to being singled out as a special group worthy of study. The results of the Hawthorne Studies caused the focus of management study to change greatly and generated enough interest in the social aspect of organisations to spark the Human Relations movement (Bartol et al, 2006; Perrier 1972).
Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor were two major theorists to contribute to the Human Relations movement. Maslow developed a theory of motivation based on three assumptions of human needs. Using this he created a hierarchy of needs, introducing the concept that workers have needs beyond the basic drive for money to put a roof over their head (Bartol et al, 2006).

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. (Maslow, 1970)

Douglas McGregor developed the Theory X versus Theory Y approach to behavioural management. Douglas' theory X and Theory Y refer to the assumptions that managers hold about their workers (Bennis, and Stephens, 2000). Kermally (2005) describes McGregor's theories as:

Theory X assumes: • People inherently dislike work. As a consequence, they have to be threatened (using


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